Mastiff Four should take the prize
Debra J. Saunders
2/3/2001 12:00:00 AM - Debra J. Saunders
Dear Mario Fehr,
As a member of Swiss parliament, you already served the cause of world peace when you nominated Stanley "Tookie" Williams for the Nobel Peace Prize last year. Tookie may be in San Quentin's death row for the 1979 slayings of four innocent people killed in his armed robberies, but as you explained, Tookie's beatific pose shows kids that "no matter what mistakes you have made in your life, you can change for the better."
It is time for you to step up to the plate once again. In the "Tookie" spirit, you now should nominate four exceptional Northern California residents -- San Francisco attorney Robert Noel, his lawyer wife Marjorie Knoller, and their clients, Pelican Bay inmates Paul "Cornfed" Schneider and Dale Bretches.
It's true, only one of the four, Bretches, has been convicted of murder. But Cornfed is serving time for attempted murder. Noel and Knoller could face charges for the mauling death of Diane Whipple, the 33-year-old woman attacked last week by the law couple's Presa Canario mastiffs (which were raised as part of a dog-breeding operation bankrolled by Cornfed and Bretches).
Besides, the attack was not the dogs' fault, but that of the victim. As Noel and Knoller wrote to the district attorney, Whipple may have been wearing perfume -- if so, she was insensitive to people allergic to fragrances. Worse, she apparently held it against the dogs that one of them had bitten her before. Had she no sense of forgiveness?
And in no time, Whipple will be a faint memory. Tookie groupies have demonstrated how easily thug-huggers can dismiss four corpses as old news.
What's important -- you know this -- is that the Mastiff Four have their hearts in the right place. Today is the first day of the rest of their lives.
Don't judge them by how they've dealt with law-abiding people. What's important is what they say.
Noel told The San Francisco Chronicle that Schneider, 38, "is definitely a man of more character and integrity than most of the people you're going to find in the California Department of Corrections administration." Hey, Noel and Knoller adopted the little felon, I mean, little feller.
While in prison, Schneider has fought oppression in the system. He filed lawsuits against the Department of Corrections over the lack of free photocopying and cable TV programs dear to his racial interests. He won a case that forced prisons to pay interest on prisoner savings accounts.
Don't listen to wags who would trash the inmates for being part of the Aryan Brotherhood. It didn't bother you that court documents indicated that Tookie boasted of killing Asians. Or that he especially regretted violence committed by his Crips gang because it targeted young black men. If you can forgive murder, you can forgive racism.
Besides, if the Aryan Brotherhood really were racist, would members be raising attack dogs rumored to be bound to bark for the Mexican Mafia gang? If true, you can say this for their attack-dog breeding business: It was multicultural.
Ask yourself this: What does it take to turn around a violent prisoner? Apologizing and showing remorse are not the ticket. You have to find people who believe in you, no matter what. Just play the victim.
Sure, San Franciscans are mad at Noel and Knoller
today. But that will fade, and you can help. Surely people who don't blame people for the murders they commit won't blame people for the killing their dogs committed.